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Renaming station ‘Birmingham Airport’ is sensible idea, says Transport Minister

Renaming station ‘Birmingham Airport’ is sensible idea, says Transport Minister

🕔20.Dec 2013

A move to re-name Birmingham International railway station Birmingham Airport has won the backing of the Minister of Transport.

Robert Goodwill said the change was an “eminently sensible idea” and that most people would in any case refer to a planned HS2 interchange serving the airport and NEC as ‘Birmingham Airport’.

Attempts in the past to get rid of the Birmingham International name have failed, partly on financial grounds after Network Rail said the cost of changing timetable and signage would be £1 million

Network Rail is understood to be reconsidering the estimated cost at the request of Birmingham Airport chief executive Paul Kehoe. Mr Kehoe was quoted recently as saying he “runs the best rail-connected airport in the country, but you wouldn’t know it”.

The neighbouring NEC is understood not to be so keen on the idea and would prefer the HS2 interchange to be called NEC/Birmingham Airport.

Mr Goodwill was answering MPs’ questions in the House of Commons.

Asked by Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick whether it would be sensible to call the new station ‘Birmingham Airport’, Mr Goodwill said: ”  I suspect that people will start to call it that anyway, so it seems an eminently sensible idea.”

The Minister also gave significant backing to the future of Birmingham Airport just days after the Government’s Airports Commission said plans for a second runway at Birmingham were unlikely to come forward until 2050.

The commission backed additional runways at Heathrow and Gatwick, with one to be built by 2030.

Responding to a question from Coventry South MP Jim Cunningham, Mr Goodwill said he believed Birmingham would become a “hub airport” with more direct flights to foreign destinations.

He added: “The Government have always made it clear that airports such as Birmingham, which are international airports in their own right, make a vital contribution to regional and local economic growth and connectivity. Forecasts indicate capacity for significant further growth at the airport, including more point-to-point destinations.

“Birmingham Airport is forecast to carry nine million passengers this year, and that could further increase given the proposal to extend the runway. It is set to become a hub in its own right, not fed by feeder flights but by our wonderful new north-south railway, which will provide connections by high-speed rail to the major cities of our country.”

HS2 will reduce journey times between Birmingham Airport and central London to 36 minutes. The line will link to a station at Old Oak Common for express trains to Heathrow with a journey time of 11 minutes and eight trains an hour.

The faster link between Birmingham Airport and London compares with a 47 minute journey time by train between Stansted Airport and London.

The Minister was asked by Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant about remarks said to have been made by Andy Street, chairman of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP. Mr Street is reported to have said the expansion of airports in the south-east would not damage the expansion and financial prospects of Birmingham Airport and that all of the airports could work together.

Mr Goodwill replied: “I agree that we need expansion and growth in airports around the country, including our regional airports, which I like to refer to as local international airports.”

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